Originally Published In
Paper presented at the Eleventh Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies, Vienna, Austria.
Since the first cave art was discovered two central questions have plagued the research. “Who made the art?” and “Why?” Multiple theories have been raised and explored, however, few lacked hard data to be able to narrow down to the individual level of artist and intention. Recent research focused on the study of finger flutings – lines drawn with hands and fingers in the soft surfaces of caves – has yielded a wealth of forensic data about their creators. While there is still no definitive way to know if the fluters are also the artists of the painted and engraved images, they leave increasingly clearer images and begin to answer some of the questions of what individuals were doing in the caves. One of the most promising areas of research, and the one on which this paper focuses, is the subject of group sizes as we are able to determine through forensics the minimum number of individuals who fluted the caves. By identifying individuals in various parts of the caves we are able to know who the artists were, where they went, and how many individuals participated in the creation of specific panels. Through this we are able to respond to some of the previously proposed theories on the use of the caves and raise new questions about specific cultures within the broader time frames of the Upper Paleolithic.